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9 Oct, 2014 09:07

‘Russian Unity’ leader unanimously elected head of Crimean Republic

‘Russian Unity’ leader unanimously elected head of Crimean Republic

The Crimean regional legislature has unanimously approved Prime Minister Sergey Aksyonov as the republic’s new leader.

Aksyonov’s candidacy was supported by all 75 deputies in the regional legislature. His two opponents were the regional minister for ecology and natural resources, and a member of the federal parliament representing the center-left Fair Russia party.

He already has experience of running the region as he became acting head of the republic right after its accession into the Russian Federation in April this year. He is also the Crimean prime minister and will continue to occupy this post after becoming the head of the regional executive.

Previously he worked as a lawmaker in the regional parliament after being elected there in 2010 on the “Russian Unity” public movement ticket that defended the interests of ethnic Russians in Ukraine.

Participants at the rally in support of the Crimean Parliament and Sevastopol City Council's decision to reunite with Russia, staged on Nakhimov Square in Sevastopol. (RIA Novosti / Valeriy Melnikov)

Aksyonov was sworn in as the new Crimean leader right after the result of the parliamentary vote was announced.

The new leader of the republic will face several major challenges including water and energy supplies, accessibility, and balancing the budget. All are caused by Crimea’s unique geographical position, as well as the continuing political conflict due to its secession from Ukraine. So far, Crimean authorities are optimistic about the republic’s future, saying that it is capable of providing enough natural gas and fresh water for it needs. The federal center is helping with solving the other two problems – Moscow promised to provide a bridge that would connect the Russian mainland with the peninsula, and 95 percent of the Crimean budget will come as federal aid.

Also on Thursday the Sevastopol legislative assembly elected Sergey Menyailo as city governor. Menyailo represents Russian parliamentary majority party United Russia and took part in the latest legislative elections in Sevastopol but was removed from the deputies’ list to take part in the gubernatorial poll. Previously he was in the Russian Navy and was deputy commander of the Black Sea Fleet. After retiring from the Navy in 2011 he managed the state-owned Crimean Sea Ports corporation. In April this year Menyailo became acting governor of Sevastopol.

Sevastopol is Crimea’s largest city. It is home to the main base of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, and has ports and shipbuilding enterprises. It is also a separate Federal Region within the Russian Federation which means that it has its own legislative bodies and executive, and two senators represent the city in the Upper House of the Russian parliament.

The elections of the heads of Crimea and Sevastopol were held after the people of the republic elected a new parliament, called the State Council, on the all-Russian elections day of September 13. A total of 803 candidates and 12 parties had run in polls at all levels in the republic. During the elections ballots were offered in three languages – Russian, Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar, and voters were identified by their Russian and Ukrainian IDs, as well as old IDs issued in the USSR.

The next elections for the Crimean leader are due in five years.